A Vacation Bible School lesson is not truly done until the children have had a chance to review and to share what they have learned.
Review: After a lesson has been taught, it must be reviewed to be retained. Some of the review will be pretty much immediate; some of it will follow a bit later.
Sharing: Technically, sharing also works as review for the learner. It cements ideas in the child’s mind — but it also takes it a step further.
When we share, the lesson we learned is now presented to a new learner. This is how the Gospel was meant to spread!
While many use skits and plays and such to accomplish these tasks to some degree, last time we spoke of several of the main objections to using drama in your Vacation Bible School. But we must not leave it at a “don’t”!
This time, let’s look at the “other side of the coin,” so to speak. The alternatives have some beautiful benefits! Let’s consider those benefits first; then we will get very practical and learn just how doable it really is to review and share without the use of drama.
5 Benefits of non-dramatic activities
As we noted last time: the question with drama is not “Can it work?” but “Is it best?” Really think on this list of some of the benefits of using non-dramatic activities for review and sharing at VBS.
- It frees up time.
- They appeal to the mind.
- They feed love for simple pleasures.
- They encourage a personal relationship with Jesus.
- They equip for witnessing.
Perhaps the most obvious point: Omitting drama (which can involve an awful lot of preparation time for designing sets, creating costumes, memorizing lines, etc.) opens up more room in the schedule for other activities.
Non-dramatic activities appeal to the mind rather than emotion. Decisions made through reasoning tend to be much more solid and long-lasting than those made based on emotional reactions.
Non-dramatic activities feed our God-given love for the simple. We tend to enjoy (and even crave) what we spend more time with. Spending time singing, praying, studying God’s Word, contemplating His power as seen in nature… will encourage the children’s love for these things; whereas drama and entertainment will quickly tend to do just the opposite.
The non-dramatic activities encourage the children’s personal relationships with Jesus. They teach the children how to spend time with Him, how to get to know Him, and how to discern His will in their lives.
Finally — and this one might be one of the easier to overlook — non-dramatic activities are much easier to reproduce on the spot when the Lord opens doors for the children to witness to others. They will know what to do because it is the very thing you have been doing with them.
7 great ways to review and share what the children have learned
So what opportunities should you give the children for reviewing and sharing their VBS lessons? Here you go. You will notice that many of these activities overlap and generally work great together!
- Study it out
- Scripture (memory verses)
- Review games
Story-telling is often part of the lesson itself, but it can also be a great way for review — and especially for sharing.
The children can re-tell the story to you to test their memory and reinforce the story in their minds. This is a good one to couple with worksheets.
You can re-tell the story to them, along with a nice sprinkling of thought questions, as you do a follow-up activity. This works especially well coupled with crafts.
You and/or the children can re-tell the story to someone else. Another time, we will discuss how you can use this approach as a very nice foundation for a VBS closing program for family, friends, and the community to attend.
There are several ways to approach studying out the VBS lesson. You might simply show the children where to find the story or message in their Bibles so they can read it for themselves. You might provide them with some related Scripture passages to look up, or ask them for questions and pursue some of them.
This is another activity that couples very well with worksheets.
Songs are an excellent memory tool. Carefully chosen, they can add life to a message and increase a child’s depth of understanding. Choose a song that sums up the story or lesson you have been studying, and/or find (or make up!) a memory verse song to make those precious Words that much easier to recall.
Perhaps besides crafts, songs are probably one of the most likely things a child will bring home to share with his family and friends! 🙂
Memory verses should always be a part of our lessons. The verse itself can be chosen as sort of a summary of the lesson. Put to memory, that lesson is hid in the child’s heart. Depending on just how you go about it, memory verses may stick in a child’s mind for hours, days, or even years to come!
It is by contemplating God’s Word that we learn Who He is, that we learn that we can trust Him, that we learn what He expects of us, that we gain hope for the future. A full Christian walk is built on God’s Word.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:15-17
Memory verses are one of our most powerful witnessing tools, as well. Coupled with a godly life, prayer, and concern for others, memory verses become tools in the child’s hand to win precious hearts for Christ.
Memory verses can be coupled with songs, crafts, worksheets, studying, story-telling — well, I guess just about everything! God’s Word is a sure foundation to build on!
Worksheets should be an integral part of review, if at all possible. They help give structure to your program. Well-designed worksheets will bring out deeper parts of the lesson as the children are able to understand, as well as help to cement the basic lesson idea.
Use worksheets to learn and review memory verses, to facilitate subject study, to get the children thinking about life issues and Bible promises — even to give little hands a related picture to doodle on while you talk together about what you have learned.
Review games can explore the children’s understanding of a lesson, test their recall of facts, and help them remember Scripture quotes (memory verses!).
A game can be as simple as writing a verse on the white board and one by one erasing the words as the children recite over and again. It can also be more complex, like “Bible Jeopardy,” for example. (Incidentally, Hasten Home’s VBS curriculum sets include a fun, age-appropriate review exercise for each day. 😉 )
At Vacation Bible School, crafts can be a nice way to teach children a handiwork skill they may not otherwise get to learn. Crafts also happen to be a fun way to incorporate Bible lessons with play.
They provide a casual environment for talking about whatever might be on the children’s minds: a point about the story, their VBS experience, or even a more personal issue that has been weighing on their heart.
Plus, craft time usually ends up with a piece of work the children are excited to show all of the people they love the best.
The closing program
The really neat thing is that these very activities that work so well for reviewing and teaching the VBS lessons lead very nicely into a first-class VBS closing program that every child will have a part in.
One day soon I will have to show you how I pull that all together — and how you can, too!